By Andrew Paloczi
Hallam 7.13 (55) def by Doveton Eagles 11.5 (71)
Doveton flattened Hallam with a dominant second-half display in which the Eagles booted seven goals to two.
It was a bitterly disappointing finish for the Hawks, exiting the finals without a win after setting the standard throughout the home and away season.
Shortly after the Doveton players belted out a zealous rendition of the club song, a shell-shocked Hallam team listened to coach Scott Slater’s season post mortem. He mentioned Doveton’s finals experience may have played a part in the loss, and that the Eagles were the better side on the day.
They certainly were, although Hallam suffered a wretched time on the injury front and was eventually forced to rely on fill-in options in the ruck.
Slater felt most for the players who consistently work the hardest, stressing those who have shown less dedication to training are probably regretting it now.
Doveton’s achievement in reaching the Grand Final from fourth place, having to handle the pressure of three sudden death finals, is noteworthy.
Adam Read has proved a significant factor in that accomplishment. He backed up his excellent performance in the Elimination Final win against Black Rock with another commendable effort when the Eagles eliminated Ashwood.
Read again flourished, finishing with four goals against Hallam and also doing plenty of solid work outside the Eagles’ forward line.
Corrie Wilson’s assured game resulted in him being named Doveton’s best player for the seventh time this season.
The skipper’s dedication and efficiency lifts his team.
Dale Jose, Cam Carmody and Travis Graeske were a few more of the Eagles’ many significant contributors.
For Hallam, Manny Peresso featured amongst its best once more, as he so often has. Sadly, he announced his retirement after having given his all in striving to propel Hallam to the ultimate success.
It is perhaps not a great surprise with the champion fast approaching age 40, but his fitness, dedication and skill belie that figure.
Another Hawk to catch the eye was Justin Marriott who returned to the side after illness and was his team’s best player. His ability to read the play and provide run was a major factor in keeping Hallam in the contest until the final term.
At the last change Doveton’s lead was under two goals, but it had seized the momentum with a 5.1 to 1.3 third term.
The Eagles’ versatile David Lever was marched to the goal square after receiving a 50-metre penalty, goaling four minutes into the final stanza.
When Andrew Floyd bobbed up for his first goal of the season it put Doveton 23 points ahead.
Hallam finally moved beyond its three quarter time score with a Brandon Nolan mark and goal as time on approached.
It was too late to achieve anything more than increased respectability on the scoreboard and the final siren signalled a 16-point Doveton victory.
The sideshow in the lead up to the game was the Russell Robertson saga with the former Melbourne star originally named online, despite being under an injury cloud.
When the Eagles hit the field for their warm up, Robbo took part in some gentle kick-to-kick, resplendent in jeans and club polo top.
Needless to say, he watched the match from behind the boundary line.
It seemed to matter little by the end of the game as he celebrated with Doveton’s players.
Robbo’s fitness will now be a matter of conjecture for another week.
The Eagles’ players were advised by coach Simon Caldwell to enjoy the build up to the Grand Final, but to remember they still have a job to do.